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Jani: Incident “Overshadows Everything” about GTE-Pro Battle

A frustrated Neel Jani questions handling of incident that provisionally cost Porsche the title…

Photo: Porsche

Neel Jani feels that the outcome of the late incident between his crew’s No. 92 Porsche and the No. 51 Ferrari in the FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Pro title decider “overshadows everything” about the close race between the two teams in Bahrain.

Jani and his co-driver Kevin Estre came into the season finale, which they contested with Michael Christensen, tied on points with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi from AF Corse Ferrari squad.

Christensen, who had taken four used tires at his penultimate stop, was being hunted down by Pier Guidi who had two new Michelins on the rear of his Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.

Pier Guidi touched the rear of Christensen’s car under braking for the Turn 15 right-hander, which caused the Porsche to spin and allowed the Ferrari through into the class lead.

Race control initially ordered Pier Guidi, who had escaped 11 seconds up the road, to give the position back but the signal was removed around the time that Christensen made his car’s final fuel-only pit visit with ten minutes remaining.

No further race control messages sprung up in the closing stages of the race, during which Pier Guidi carried on to the checkered flag to provisionally win the race and the championship alongside Calado.

A frustrated Jani told Sportscar365 that the incident and subsequent lack of penalization for the Ferrari overshadowed what had otherwise been an enthralling duel between the two GTE-Pro title protagonists.

“They can spin us around, get a penalty and we lose,” said Jani. “Have you ever seen a race or a championship where they don’t get a drive-through for something like that?

“He broke our car. He broke our diffuser, the exhaust. He killed our tires that were flat-spotted. He should just give the position back, but then it got canceled.

“Come on, where have you seen that? Every other championship, like in Formula 1, they get five or 10-second penalties for these things, or a drive-through.

“I don’t know what to say. I’ve never seen a decision like that.

“Until then, what a race it was. And to be honest, if they overtook us, it’s normal. We [would] have to say it was a mega race and they had it at the end.

“Yes we will cry and be sad and whatever, but this was not fair. This was not correct. It overshadows everything. It’s a shame.”

Jani suggested that Porsche “have to protest” the decision. It is understood that the German manufacturer is preparing to lodge an appeal.

“If you accept that, from now on we start taking out cars,” said the 2016 FIA World Endurance champion.

“You break them so much, because you know you have to give the position back. And then it gets canceled, but you still have a car which is OK, you will always win the race.

“It’s tactical racing then: racing will change from a tactical point of view.

“Who knows if it was a mistake or not? He spun us around, broke our car and doesn’t get a penalty. It’s a drive-through, everywhere in the world, and in any other FIA championship for sure. Everywhere except here.”

Pier Guidi commented during the post-race press conference that he “couldn’t do anything” about the situation of the penalty once the Porsche made its fuel-only pit stop, after which he said the race director instructed him to continue driving.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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